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The mission of Mara Veronica’s private pre-school in Williams is “Nurturing bright spirits, nourishing gentle hearts, and cultivating kind, capable and confident earth-connected children.” She named her school “Muddy Toes” to capture its fun spirit and her belief that kids thrive when they are outside in nature. However, she didn’t want the kids to actually have muddy toes—at least not during the cold rainy winter. The school is located on Cedar Flat in Williams.

“I’ve lucked out a lot,” says Mara. “So far, it’s mainly been raining on the weekends.”

Still, she’d like to be less dependent on weather-luck in the future. In that spirit, Mara applied for an Innovation Grant from A Greater Applegate to purchase a shelter to enable the kids to remain outside in inclement weather, without being too uncomfortable. The shelter comes from a small company called Shade Cloud Shelters and Mara chose structures because they are beautiful, natural and it’s safe to build a fire underneath them.

Mara’s project fits in with the Vibrant & Livable portion of the Applegate Valley Vision. Over the years of 2019 and 2020, A Greater Applegate held listening sessions throughout the Applegate Valley to hear what residents wanted for the valley’s future. The resulting 89-page Vision document outlines the goals and strategies for realizing that vision.

Until now, Mara has just strung up a tarp, which is practical, but results in a very small space. The new shelter will be big enough for a table and crafting area.

Muddy Toes operates with a Waldorf-inspired curriculum and structure. She describes it as “play-based, nature-guided, age-appropriate learning.” The curriculum includes nature-based art, earth skills, nature adventures, movement, singing, games and more.  Much of the time is spent learning social skills in a loving, supportive environment.

Muddy Toes is now accepting enrollment for Spring of 2024.

Contact Mara at [email protected]